What do we really know about the actual James Beard Award event? We don’t get to see it on TV like the Oscars and is really not discussed much on TV or in the news. At least not in comparison to other award shows like The Oscars or Emmy’s or MTV Music Awards! An online search will usually bring up two links, one for the James Beard Foundation, and another site for the James Beard Foundation Awards. Both contain factual information like when the event was established (1990), where you can buy tickets (online, $450), who the sponsors are (American Express, Al Clad, Pommery Champagne-and several others), the nominees (of course!), where and when (5/4/09, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center NYC) and the hosts (Cat Cora, Emeril and Stanley Tucci).

But what about the hype and the generation of award show excitement? Where is all that? I am not sure exactly where “Beard” is broadcast, because besides the short video clip found on the James Beard website, the only real live red carpet coverage I found last year was on Devour.TV and that didn’t include what went on inside, just before and after. Their live “realty tv” like coverage gave us a close up look at all of our fave culinary celebs like Jose Andreas and Michael Psilakis. Lately, with the exponential growth of food bloggers (and this is a topic that needs to be covered as well-so many food blogs, how does one choose which ones to read?) the James Beard awards have been getting a bit more hype. This is exciting, because after all, don’t we all want to know if Michael Pollan will show up in Dolce & Gabbana, or Ruth Reichl in Yves Saint Laurent? But seriously, I am grateful for all the online food chatter about “Beard” (by the way, in the foodie world, people refer to this event as “Beard” IE-“Hey, I will see you on May 4th at Beard ok?!” AND as you can imagine, I am enormously excited attending “Beard” and I plan to get in as much behind the scenes coverage as possible. I will have with me an official photographer who specializes in B&W NYC shots (Robert David Zemser) a movie camera and a spot on the red carpet. I want to bring this experience alive to as many people as possible!

Some of my favorite “Beard” coverage include the Nation’s Restaurant News Editor, Bret Thorne’s fun predictions (he got 7 out of 19 right last year) and the slightly more involved predictions by eatmedaily.com . I would like to contribute to the hype as well. I invite all food blog readers to send me your Beard Predictions for 2009. I know there are MANY and you don’t have to pick them all (but the list is here if you want to!), if you want you can focus on the highlights which include:

(Culinologist’s predictions based on months of research, eating and reading are highlighted here)

Outstanding Restaurant: Babbo, Boulevard, Highlands Bar & Grill, Jean Georges, Fore Street

Outstanding Chef: Jose Andreas, Dan Barber, Tom Colicchio, Suzanne Goin, Paul Kahan

Rising Chef Star: Nate Appleman, Sean Brock, Johnny Monis, Gabriel Rucker, Michael Solomonov

Best New Restaurant: The Bazaar, Corton, L20, Momofuku, Scarpatta

Who’s Who of Food and Beverage In America: David Burke, John T Edge, Betty Fussell, Cann Hamilton, Clark Wolf

American Classics: Breitbach’s Country Dining, Totono, Mustache Bill’s Diner, Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Yank Sing

I am also keeping my fingers crossed for Mediterranean Fresh-by San Francisco Local Joyce Goldstein in the Single Subject Category (up against Fat-by Jennifer McLagan) and Robert Danhi’s Southeast Asian Flavors, and The Science of Good Food –by Joachim, Schloss, and Handel.

Who do YOU think will win! ??Don’t be Shy-Post your predictions!!

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